U.S. stock index futures signal more gains

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall
Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: ) up 0.46
percent, Dow Jones (DJc1: ) futures up 0.47 percent and Nasdaq 100
(NDc1: ) futures up 0.51 percent at 1000 GMT.

* European stocks were up 0.7 percent in morning trade,
extending the previous session’s strong gains, as investors
watched to see if the European Central Bank would rush through
new measures to resolve the euro zone debt crisis.

* The European Central Bank is expected to keep unlimited
liquidity operations in place for longer with the euro zone debt
crisis raging unabated, but analysts say it is unlikely to
announce mass new bond purchases on Thursday. [ID:nLDE6B01V3]

* The cost of insuring peripheral euro zone debt against
default eased on Thursday ahead of the ECB meeting, while the
euro gained ground against the dollar.

* Oil was steady near $87 on Thursday after rallying 3
percent in the previous session on encouraging jobs data in top
consumer the United States that helped drive prices to their
highest in almost three weeks.

* Singapore’s GIC and OCBC’s (OCBC.SI: ) insurance arm have
joined a group led by U.S. private equity firms KKR [KKR.UL] and
TPG Capital [TPG.UL] in buying Morgan Stanley’s (MS.N: ) 34.3
percent stake in top Chinese investment bank CICC.

* General Motors (GM.N: ) and its Chinese partners sold
196,990 vehicles in China in November, up 11.2 percent from a
year earlier, while Toyota Motor (7203.T: ) said it sold 17
percent more cars in China in November compared with a year

* Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O: ) posted a 9 percent rise in
November sales at store open at least a year, helped by higher
gasoline prices and strengthening foreign currencies.

* Dutch mail and logistics firm TNT (TNT.AS: ) on Thursday
detailed the planned separation of its Express activities from
its mail activities and said it would keep a 29.9 percent stake
in the Express unit. The move cuts down TNT to its old postal
activities and could make Express a takeover target in a new
consolidation wave in the global sector in which Fedex (FDX.N: )
and United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N: ) are big rivals and most
growth is in emerging markets such as in Asia.

* Economic data on tap for Thursday includes weekly initial
jobless claims, pending home sales for October, and retail chain
store sales for November. [ECI/US]

* Companies expected to report quarterly results include
Novell Inc (NOVL.O: ), The Kroger Co (KR.N: ), Toll Brothers (TOL.N: )
and Del Monte Foods (DLM.N: ). [RESF/US]

* The Dow and the S&P 500 scored their biggest gains in
three months on Wednesday as efforts to resolve the EU’s debt
crisis helped push the S&P above 1,200, an important technical
level that signals the potential for the rally to continue.

* The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) gained 249.76
points, or 2.27 percent, to 11,255.78. The Standard & Poor’s 500
Index (.SPX: ) rose 25.52 points, or 2.16 percent, to 1,206.07.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) added 51.20 points, or 2.05
percent, to 2,549.43.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Hans Peters)

U.S. stock index futures signal more gains